Over 200 years ago, Rene Laennec crafted a device to aid gathering information that would improve care; his device was the first stethoscope, allowing us to hear things in health and disease. While at first being crude in design and requiring much training, this tool now is one of the basic things used by many delivering health care. It allowed physicians and others to know more, early and safely.
Ultrasonography has a shorter history but a similar trajectory. The basic physics existed before 1800, but use of the ultrasonography in medicine did not begin until 1942. The initial devices were big, challenging to use, and created insights that were less well linked to pathology or needed care actions. Over the decades since, everything improved—we have many devices, some pocket-sized, with varying hardware and software packages that allow rapid and detailed assessment of anatomy and physiology at the tip of a hand.
Emergency physicians began embracing ultrasonography in the 1980s, often initially with opposition; those leading the charge knew that our acute care environment with time-sensitive conditions and concerns needed better, rapid diagnostics like Laennec sought with his stethoscope. Their efforts, the advances in equipment, the volumes of pragmatic research, and legions of trained emergency physicians in the past 30 years created a new reality: Point-of-care ultrasonography is a basic tool for much, both therapeutic and diagnostic. We made the initial key phase of care better by using ultrasound in our emergency departments and other early care settings. Many patients with new or worsened illness or injury benefit—not just those with trauma or gynecologic conditions, where initial adoption came first. Others in medicine are now partners in this use of ultrasound, including our imaging-focused partners, who help collaboratively advance point-of-care use.
Ma and Mateer offer this text, one that teaches the beginner through the expert, using a well-constructed collection of chapters that address key issues. The content is sequenced, organized, and covers a broad range of topics, balancing pragmatism with detail. The writing is crisp, accompanied by strong illustrations and videos, as well as key learning points and references augmented by online links. The authors are known for their expertise, and the editors are "the point-of-acute-care imaging" authorities. Those with any acute care practice will benefit, including anyone seeking advanced training and recognition after initial skill acquisition within an emergency medicine or another program.
This text is something many will need and use—to learn, to explore, and to better deliver care. This is the road map and the reference—an amazing accomplishment in a text of this size.
Donald M. Yealy, MD
Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Pittsburgh/University of Pittsburgh Physicians
Senior Medical Director, Health Services Division
Vice President, Emergency and Urgent Care Services, UPMC
Professor of Emergency Medicine, Medicine, and Clinical and Translational Sciences
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine